Friday, 17 July 2015

AUNT JULIA AND THE SCRIPTWRITER by Mario Vargas Llosa

I've read one other book by Vargas Llosa, the wonderful terrifying THE FEAST OF THE GOAT, which I bought because it was the only English language book on sale in Acapulco airport. I then read in one stint over a twelve hour bus ride through Mexico. A book that frightening should not be read on your own, and certainly not without any breaks. It's about the Dominican Republic, making it my second favourite book about a country I can't even find on a map. (Favourite: THE BRIEF AND WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO).

THE FEAST OF THE GOAT has that great essential of a good novel: a plot. AUNT JULIA AND THE SCRIPTWRITER, unfortunately, does not. It alternates, chapter by chapter, between a quite acceptable premise - 18 year old man falls in love with his much older aunt - with a selection of short stories which are unrelated and annoyingly unfinished. Vargas Llosa is so talented that unwillingly I kept getting interested in the short stories, even though I knew they would not end. I think it's all just showing off. What's he trying to say? Surprise surprise, life lacks narrative coherence? WE KNOW THAT. That's why we read novels.

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